Practical problems with personal pronouns
My employer has just informed us employees that we now have the option to show our personal pronouns in our corporate directory. I object on religious grounds, but I wonder if personal pronouns are nothing more than virtue-signaling. After all, there are really no rules around what constitutes a personal pronoun. If you really wanted to incorporate them into your work, there are many practical problems that I can see:
- Naming issues
- Can I use unrecognizable words? (fdsjiofasjgka;rhruaigxvbmxl)
- Do I have to use words from a list?
- Can I use impossibly long words? Imagine thousands of characters.
- Can I use unpronounceable words? (Remember Prince's unpronounceable name?)
- Can I use non-alphabetic characters?
- Can I use suggestive or offensive words?
- Can I use foreign characters?
- Do I have to use any vowels?
- Do I have to use any consonants?
- Can I use words that already have another meaning? (United States of America)
- Can I use someone else's name? (President Biden)
- Can I use a sound?
- Technical issues
- Can I use words that are not recognized by standard authoring systems like MS Word?
- Do I have to program my spell-checker to accept the personal pronouns of everyone I am writing about?
- Do I have to do such programming every time I have to respect new personal pronouns?
- Grammar issues
- Can I use words that confuse the understanding of plural and singular? (Everyone, No one, Dallas Cowboys)
- If I use a pronoun that is plural, does an accompanying verb have to be plural or singular? (They is)
- What if two different people using plural pronouns want conflicting singular and plural verbs?
- Social issues
- Can any person, including heterosexual/binary people, create personal pronouns? Apparently so. If only non-heterosexuals can do so, isn't it discriminatory?
- If use of personal pronouns leads to misunderstanding and confusion, what is more important: the personal pronouns or bringing clarity? If I have to spend a significant part of my day trying to figure out what some sentences mean, would it be best to just ignore personal pronouns?
- Do I have to remember all the individual personal pronouns of every single person I talk to in a group meeting? If there are ten people in my meeting, and they all introduce themselves with their personal pronouns, I will not be able to remember them all when I talk during the meeting. If I just resort to referring to them by their last names so I don't offend anyone, would that defeat the purpose of personal pronouns?
- How much additional time should I add to a meeting in order to make sure I use the correct personal pronouns of each person every time? This could easily slow down the meeting.
- If my personal pronoun is a word that another person finds offensive, should I still use that personal pronoun?
- If my company has rules on the use of personal pronouns and a customer has different rules on the use of personal pronouns, which should I follow?
- Can a personal pronoun change at any time? What if a person suddenly embraces a new gender?
- What if a personal pronoun changes during a conversation?
- Can a personal pronoun change back and forth seamlessly?
- If a person cannot pronounce my personal pronoun, is that ableism?
- If a person uses a personal pronoun unique to that individual, is that showing preferential treatment and discrimination against others?
- Can I have personal verbs as well?
- How much time should an individual or organization spend trying to figure out these and other personal pronoun–related issues?
- Are there any restrictions on personal pronouns? If so, who makes those decisions and why? There is no definitive list of genders. It changes based on the source. Why can't we make up our own minds about the rules of personal pronouns?
I don't really expect that anyone will actually answer these questions. After all, leftists often sprout ideas and promote them without really thinking them through. Think "banning fossil fuels." Think "defunding the police." Think "transitioning minors." Personal pronouns are no more than virtue-signaling. The left should just wear T-shirts or pins that show how woke leftists are without forcing everyone else to change his life. But then again, when have leftists ever left anyone alone?
Most of us have objections to personal pronouns because using them seems to indicate that we agree with gender transitioning. Trying to make that argument is difficult and can often fall on deaf ears, so it might be better to point out the practical problems as outlined above. This is similar to the pro-life movement. Trying to make Christian arguments against abortion doesn't resonate with non-Christians. However, we can argue from science, sociology, and other secular perspectives.
Oh, and my personal pronouns are "me/
Image: Ted Eytan.